Okay, you got me: rhubarb season is over. This recipe is a not-so-seasonal share. But, in my defence (and I always have a defence) last week we had a lot of fresh rhubarb from work, so I could not not make something with it, you know?
And these Ginger Rhubarb + Vanilla Cream Bars are exactly what I’ve been craving these (suddenly) hot fall days. It’s hard to believe it’s officially autumn, and it’s really the first time all summer that shorts have been an option. If you wanted, you could bring out your summer dresses and cute sun hats for a brief affair.
Not me though. I’m sticking to my guns: I’ve already mentally prepared myself for the fall weather. For the hot drinks and cozy outfits. For the vampy nail polish. So two days ago, when it may have been one of the warmest days we’ve had in a long while, I sat with my friend on a patio, while she drank an iced coffee and wore sunglasses, and I drank a hot peppermint tea and wore a beanie.
So maybe I’m not exactly a go-with-the-flow lady. In fact, I can be quite rigid. Which brings me to today’s blog post.
Between you and I, this week I’ve had a lot on my brain. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we label ourselves, and the small boxes we make ourselves fit into. I’ve been thinking about how these labels, these words, define us and limit us.
I’ve had a lot of labels in my life, and most of them have been self-imposed: Straight. Slut. Vegan. Paleo. Gay. Femme. Victim. Bulimic.
For years I had a very strict and limited idea of what a healthy diet was. I ate a very hardcore paleo (sometimes keto) diet, and I was miserable (good bye cheesecake). I’ve talked a lot about my own struggle with disordered eating on the blog, so I won’t dive in too deep, but the point is, it was terrifying to move out of a diet that I knew wasn’t serving me, when for so long I had identified with it, had idolized it, only to feel as though I had failed it. I found the diet overly restrictive, and I was constantly eliminating foods from my “Can-Eat” list, until I found I was hardly eating anything at all. It wasn’t until I let go of the label, which was a long journey, that I realized I had way more freedom to eat what I wanted and I could do so without guilt (welcome back, cheesecake).
For years I outwardly identified as straight, only to feel embarrassed and ashamed for feelings, for crushes, that I had been having since I was a kid. To come out, to find a new label, a new badge to wear, was hard. It was harder still, because I was (and still am) often met with comments like “well you don’t look gay” or “you’re too pretty to be a lesbian”, as though the way I look could have anything to do with the people I love or find myself attracted to. But still, I tried to look “more gay” (which is not a thing by the way). And I hated the way I felt, because it wasn’t me. When I dress like myself (aka nails done, hair done, everything did) I feel a lot more pressure to constantly out myself, to prove my gayness, to create this narrative of a femme lady lover who has found the light and never looked back.
But of course, that narrative completely invalidates any experience or connection I had before I came out, as though all those relationships, all those feelings don’t count or don’t hold merit, because I am gay and they were men. Which obviously, isn’t true. And while I identify as being gay (and very proud to be so), I don’t love the all-or-nothing approach we use to define people.
People are fluid. Sexuality is fluid. Diet is fluid. People are just not these labels. And there are so many labels, and today I’m just touching on the ones that have affected me the most. And while yes, labels help people understand who they are, and who they’re not in relation to other people, they prevent you from really seeing the whole picture. They limit your experiences. It’s not black and white. There is no right answer. We’re humans, and we’re messy.
And I want be okay with that. I want you to be okay with that. I want there to be room for growth to ask questions. I want there to be cheesecake (always cheesecake).
So yeah, that’s where my head has been lately.
Okay for real: these Ginger Rhubarb + Vanilla Cream Bars are divine.
Coconut flour shortbread crust. Vanilla cashew cream filling. Topped with a ginger rhubarb compote. Yes, sign me up. Again, I love, love, love paleo baked good because they are so satiating. As much as I want, and try, to eat a whole pan of these, they really hit the spot and leave you feeling full and happy as a clam. And usually, I don’t love coconut flour. It can be dense and dry. You don’t get the same kind of moist crumb-y goodness that you get from nut flours (in my experience). However, as a shortbread, it makes perfect sense. And you really cannot tell that it’s gluten free. My fav.
I hope you all have the loveliest of weekends + enjoy the beautiful weather. I, myself, am off to get a pedicure and then go for patio drinks. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave the beanie at home. Because, who am I tell Autumn what she can and can not look and feel like? (See what I did there?)
- 1 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 2/3 cup coconut oil, solid
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup cashews, soaked
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb (approx. 4 stalks)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 in baking pan with parchment.
- For the crust: In a bowl mix together all ingredients until well combined. Press mixture evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool completely.
- For the Vanilla Cashew Cream layer: blend soaked cashews, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth, adding remaining water slowly until the desired thick and creamy consistency is met. (The cream should not be too thin, as it needs to stay firm on the bar). Set aside.
- For the Ginger Rhubarb Compote: Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the rhubarb is tender, about 20 minutes. Cool.
- To assemble: Spread vanilla cashew cream evenly on cooled shortbread crust. Spread ginger rhubarb compote overtop. Place bar in the fridge to set, about an hour. Slice into 9 slices.